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I know, you’re probably thinking “Chap Stick?”
I took the Chap Stick, rolled it down, and sank my teeth into the soft gushy substance. It was nasty, but there was no way I was getting a DUI. I was concentrating on chewing and spreading the Chap Stick all over the inside of my mouth.
The officer walked over to my car and started asking me questions. He asked me to step outside and talk to him and tell him what had happened. I was trying hard not to open my mouth too much and also not to directly look at him. He had me sit on the curb and asked me to call whomever I needed to and notify them that my brother would be going to the hospital. I told him I had no phone and he gave me his.
I dialed my mom, but was not expecting her to pick up, because it was like four in the morning. I was shocked to hear her voice after about the third ring.
“Hello?” she said.
“Miguel where are you?” she asked.
“The police just called and said you guys vandalized a gas station,” she said.
Before she could finish with her story I interrupted with, “Mario just got in an accident. His car is totaled.”
She said to put him on the phone and I told her, “No, I can’t, he is passed out. You have to come down here. They’re taking him to the hospital. Hold on, talk to the officer.” I handed him the phone and they conversed.
* * *
All alone these subtle days are strangling me...
The walls are breathing and my mind unweaving...
I’m fi nding out things that I didn’t know...
Counting the days till I surrender this ball and chain
and can have my peace of mind back...
When the darkness turns to light the déjà vu of
another Groundhog’s Day will begin...
Every day for me now is Monday...
A dreary one, with not much to look forward to...
— Miguel Scharmer
We were sleeping soundly when the phone rang at about 4:00 a.m. It was Miguel.
“Mario has been in a car accident,” he said.
“What? Was he hurt? Did he total the truck?” I desperately asked.
Mario still owed us for the money we had loaned him to buy the truck and this was not the fi rst time he had wrecked a vehicle.
Miguel said,” You don’t understand mom, he is hurt real bad.”
Then a strange man got on the phone. “Is this Mrs. Scharmer?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“This is the police. Your son is unconscious and has is a heartbeat, but they are having trouble securing his airway. We don’t know where we are taking him yet, but we will let you know as soon as we do. Stay where you are. Do not come down.” the policeman stated.
We knew at that point just how serious the accident was. Mark and I had spent nine years on a search and rescue team. We were both trained in emergency medical response. We were concerned that the paramedics were not able to secure Mario’s airway. Without enough oxygen he might die or suffer from traumatic brain injury. Where were they taking Mario, to the hospital or the morgue?
The crash was only two miles from our house. I have been told that most auto accidents happen near the home. This was certainly the case with our Mario.
Miguel drove to the house to get us. He had been in his own car following Mario home. Apparently Mario was drunk and had just finished dropping all the kids off. Brad had suggested that they spend the night at his house, but Mario didn’t want to leave his truck parked out on the street.
In the movie Sliding Doors, there is a woman whose life unfolds in two completely different ways. In one scene she gets fired from her job and gets home just in time to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman. You can imagine how that story goes. In the other scenario, she gets fired, but misses the train home. The sliding doors of the train shut just as she is about to get on. She gets home late, giving her boyfriend plenty of time to get the lover out of the house, hide the evidence, and take a shower. In an instant one’s life can change dramatically. People often beat themselves up by thinking, “If only I hadn’t done this or had done that.” Life happens and you never know what you are going to get.
* * *
If I ever lose my faith in you, then I have lost my
belief in the beauty of what lies beneath.
The bond from me to you can never be broken, torn
— Miguel Scharmer
Miguel arrived at the house and we all climbed into our car. We were anxious to get to the hospital. Miguel asked if we wanted to go by the wreck on the way. It was a minor detour. We both agreed to stop.
I was horrified to see what looked like a red soda can that someone had stepped on. The remains of Mario's truck were curled around a light post. The windshield was broken. Glass was spread all over the road and front seat of the truck. The keys were still in the ignition. The driver’s seat was covered in blood. The back of the truck looked fine; the damage was to the front. The light post ran into the middle of the engine. How could anyone survive a crash like that? Fear gripped my body. The palms of my hands were wet with sweat. My stomach was in knots and my body started shaking.
“Oh my God! He has to live, please God let Mario be okay,” I prayed.
The emergency room was crowded with people suffering from minor injuries to life threatening situations. Two police officers were hovering around waiting for the results of Mario’s blood test. They wanted to know if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We found out later that his alcohol blood level was .223!
After arriving at the hospital emergency room I decided to phone our good friend and neighbor Richard Carlson. It was 4:30 a.m., but he answered the phone! Richard was usually up at that time writing. He had always told us that the early morning hours were his best times to write. Richard wrote the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff books. When I told him what had happened to Mario, he said he would come right over to the hospital.
From Raising Mario Twice: How Love Can Transform a Life After a Tragic Event by Christine Scharmer, iUniverse, Inc. © Christine Scharmer, 2009. Used with permission. http://raisingmariotwice.com.